It’s been a particularly devastating time for the average football supporter, with the only televised options available to provide the necessary stimulus, in the incapable hands of messers Lineker, Wright, and the egg-headed grave digger Alan Shearer, seeking out a series of top tens.
Then, there’s the other option of a bored-looking Sky presenter in an empty studio who would give his right arm to run a VT of anything sports-related. Tiddlywinks via satellite link-up doesn’t offer the same levels of excitement.
Indeed, it’s so slow in sport at the moment (there isn’t any) that Captain Tom Moore’s courageous efforts of lapping his garden to raise money for the NHS is as near as it gets.
The government is only too aware of what’s at risk by delaying or cancelling the Premier League season altogether and it’s thought that the FA and cabinet ministers are looking to reboot the season within weeks.
However there’s still a lot to do, gain the consent of the individual clubs and football players to play behind closed doors, then amend the fixture lists, agree on a safe way to proceed, and liaise with the television companies and schedulers.
Then, there are the meetings between all the governing bodies and individual football associations, to see if they can somehow find a resolution to complete the European competitions. This may be even more difficult.
Ultimately, it’s about the money, don’t think it isn’t but it’s also about the future of the game, which will be in the balance if this shutdown continues. No one can say what shape the game will be in when it finally returns and how many casualties there will be.
It was always inevitable that the Premier League would recommence because the implications of not doing so were far more devastating. If the top of the football pyramid is in trouble, imagine what it’s like at the bottom.
I’m still not convinced that a host of clubs from lower divisions will be able to avoid liquidation but if an agreement can be reached, it may come in the nick of time for many.
The government is also keen for a distraction for the bored and frustrated masses and sport is normally something that lifts spirits. It would prove as a temporary respite from the world’s much greater problems but be assured, it would be a gamble because if one player contracted the virus during the rebooted season, it would almost certainly end it for good.
Before we all start getting our replica shirts out and ensuring a good viewing position in the lounge for the continuation of the season, the biggest obstacle may come from the players themselves. The Premier League, English Football League, and Professional Footballers’ Association officials have all been in contact with each other to ensure that the safety of the players is the priority.
There have been calls for regular mass testing, something that the football association will have to look at as a separate expense because it would be unforgivable to test players while front line workers aren’t able to do so.
Former United player and pundit Gary Neville recently spoke about the issue:
“There’s an article in the Daily Mail about testing. It works out at 28,000 tests. How do they get those?”
“The Premier League will be battered publicly if they get hold of those tests and front-line workers haven’t. We’re having to read between the lines. They haven’t got a group position and nobody is coming out to speak about it.”
“What happens if certain club’s players decide it’s not safe to train? Do they then make the season null and void?”
It’s said that although players are generally keen to play again, there are major concerns regarding their own safety and that of their dependents and immediate family. Where do players stand in terms of something like life insurance should they contract the virus with devastating consequences during an official national lock-down at the time of a pandemic?
Mmm, you can almost see the ink disappearing from the agreement and hear a sympathetic phone call that realises a player’s worst fears. Then there is the problem of logistics, trying to conclude the season in six weeks according to ‘The Mail’
Furthermore, there’s another risk, the players have been inactive and there is a chance of mass injuries if required to play three matches a week. Managers, coaches, and clubs will have to work out how to proceed with the available resources and that may mean resting some key players for certain games.
Dubbing it as the Premier League ‘Project Restart’, UK government said it is “opening the door” for the return of professional football in England in June.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said a meeting with the Football Association, Premier League and English Football League had “progressed plans” and the proposed date for that would be around 12 June, something which many of the managers and players feel might be a little too soon.
Does that then undermine and devalue the Premier League by concluding it by any means just to siphon off the cash and finish the fixture list? I’ll leave you to provide that answer, but it will probably be the same as mine.
This is what happens when you build a sport dependent on sponsors, advertisers, and other benefactors. We are a stone’s throw away from adverts during matches for washing up liquid, dental floss, and dog food!